Explore September - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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Did the loop counterclockwise. Took us just under 5 1/2 hours. This hike was hard in my opinion. Glad we went counterclockwise because it was BEAUTIFUL on the way up and more dusty and exposed on the way down, plus we were so tired we could not have properly enjoyed the beautiful scenery. I think it would be fun to go back counterclockwise again and go to the top then turn around and go back down and go to Lake Ann. No bugs, beautiful and well maintained trail and trailhead! Not sure the mileage is accurate here... we showed closer to 8 miles.

hiking
21 hours ago

Hiked Blanca Lake August 18th-19th. As you may have seen, the service road that leads to the trailhead is inaccessible (due to previous flooding) so the parking is on the side of the service road leading up to the area. In other words, don’t worry about parking because there’s plenty of room. Unfortunately, walking that service road to the trailhead is about 2 miles, which makes the total trip a clear cut 14 miles. Since I was planning on staying the night at the lake, I had about 25-30 pounds worth of gear in my pack and wow it made this hike so brutal. Essentially, the 3,900 feet of incline is really in the 5 miles of the actual trail, not the service road. It took my sister and I about 3 1/2 hours to get to Blanca Lake and still another 3 hours to get down back to the car the next morning. Once you reach Virgin Lake, you’ll start hiking down to Blanca Lake. Like other people have said, bring at least 2L of water if not more and make sure you have plenty of time to hike this trail. It’s gorgeous. Enjoy!

A really beautiful day hike! Its definitely smoky at the moment but not enough to deter us. The trail was shady most of the way which was great. Plenty of gorgeous views!

hiking
1 day ago

Beautiful lake, but it is too smoky now. I suggest hiking this trail when smoke clears. Lake is definitely very beautiful.

The lake is just magical. Must return on a clear day.

Wow. What an awesome time. I hiked out there just me and my dog for an overnight yesterday! I will say backpacking it was tough. I probably could have went with a little less but realistically I used everything I brought outside of extra food. This trail is a bit rough at first then evening out into a refreshing walk through some fields(3) then gradually getting more difficult. Divided into 3rds the final is the hardest. It begins going up past the Trap lake trail where switchbacks begin. Once at the top you will duck into some timber crossing a ridge then straight up the face of a timber covered mountain. Now that you’re at the top of that you will navigate through 3 boulder fields and over three ridges before you crest into the basin. Pay close attention to the stacked rocks as you might find it difficult crossing the fields. You will find snow melting away into a stream for water if you need it before the final push to the lake! We went all the way to the lake at the top at Thunder mountain. It is stocked with fish since 2014! Pretty great feeling having dinner at last watching fish jump right in front of my tent! Even with the smoke it was still worth every bit. Happy trails guys be safe!

The whole hike was excellent! the first few miles started easy then it gradually increase as you work your way up to the top. Going down from the top is a little scary so I suggest you take you steps carefully. It took me almost 4 hours from top to bottom (lower trail)

1 day ago

Beautiful!! Great hike, pretty views after the meadow. Seemed a lot longer then the posted mileage.

I’m 22, 5’1, 120lbs and I left my body and soul on the trail. This is hike is definitely difficult. It took my group and I about 3.5+ hours to get to the lake. I’d say this hike has 2 parts. The first part is the most intense, you’re going on a steep uphill for about 2 hours? It seems like never ending, never look up it’s discouraging. Bugs weren’t bad, weather was fine. The second part is when it plateaus a little then you go down hill for 1.5 hours? When you get to the lake go to the small little water fall on the left side of the lake it’s beautiful there. Water is cold.
Tip: WEAR GOOD SHOES. I wore running shoes and they were not comfortable throughout the trip
Bring at least 2L of water! You will be sweating tons
Enjoy the hike!

Nice place to hike. Love this trail.

backpacking
2 days ago

Went up to Gothic Basin this past weekend and is sad to report back that almost every single campsite had a fire pit in a location where fires are prohibited. We disassembled some of them but was frustrated and angry to see that people have no respect for these fragile places that we are so lucky to go and for LNT principles. Please educate yourself before heading out there and leave places better then when you found it.

hiking
2 days ago

I did this trail on July 23, 2018 counterclockwise. This trail has some dramatic scenery of 2 pristine lakes, wildflowers, and snow capped peaks. Personally one of the most beautiful and the hardest hike I’ve ever done. I would consider it on the hard side for a moderate hiker although in honesty I had done the Blue Lake trail right before this so I was already starting from a tired state. I had also hiked just to lake Ann and then came back to do the full loop (you have to backtrack). My advice would be have hiking poles, start early and take your time. I finished the round trip counterclockwise in about 4 hours with a very short break at the top. I ended up hurting my knee (in a lot of pain on the way down) and couldn’t hike another trail for a few days. I think I made the mistake of starting late so I rushed coming down. By the way, the blue lake trail is probably my favorite ever and it’s easier than this one. It’s not too far from this one either.

hiking
3 days ago

I've been here twice. Last year, in the first week of August, the wild flowers were peaking. This year in the 2nd week of August, they were still gorgeous and lovely. I prefer the clockwise route to get the hard elevation out of the way in the shade and fast, so that the rest is more enjoyable. I don't like downhill on my knees. Starting with the counter clockwise route is a longer more gradual ascent, but also more exposed in the sun. This latter area is dazzling with flowers and I prefer to take my time here at the end. Enjoy quite a beautiful hike.

Hiked up to the lookout today 8/13/18. Started at 7:30am and was the first one at the empty lookout. Unfortunately it is entirely socked in with smoke at the moment, making the views extremely limited at the top. The hike itself was pretty strenuous but beautiful. Wildflowers galore! The road up to the trail is in pretty bad shape. Definitely recommend a high clearance vehicle and some good tires. (My outback did fairly well)

Very steep trail with a big payoff in views. From the peak of Mt. Ellinor you can see Rainier, Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, and the Olympic range. It is almost guaranteed you will also see mountain goats.

hiking
3 days ago

A spectacular trail that is easy enough for most hikers. Moderare altitude gains with no scrambles. We went counterclockwise and were not disappointed. There is a new vista at every turn and they are all fantastic. A little buggy near Ann Lake and in the trees but otherwise perfect. Well worth the trip and the effort!

Great hike with wonderful views of the lake at the end! Scenery changes often with forest at the beginning, followed by meadows that transition into alpine vegetation and finally the overlook of the beautiful lake at the end. We found camping spots on the ridge just before getting to the National Park, but you could also camp about a 1/4 mile before the ridge and find many spots. Very difficult to actually get down to the lake. Road takes a while on the drive in/out so plan accordingly.

Good hike with the family when camping nearby.

Amazing hike! First clear day in awhile due to all the fires. Saw 4 goats on top, 2 babies so stayed clear. Did this hike last week as well and visibility was pretty bad. Glad to be able to see Cushman and the canal.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep your dogs on leashes! This is WAY too hard of a hike to not see goats!! Also, one unleashed dog helped me loose my footing on the scramble up, resulting in a very sore ankle on the way down. This is NOT a good trail for dogs!

Beautiful views at every turn. Lives up to its reputation.

A late start at 2:45 on a mostly sunny warm day. I only hiked until 5 and then turned around, only because of the late start. This is definitely a strenuous trail, more on the downhill trip. Fantastic views at a couple of places where the trees thin out. I am going to try this trail again and being trekking poles to help on the descent. The pics at the top seem to make the trip worthwhile.

Most favorite place to be, 45 minutes from my house.

Awesome lake, this trail can be rough if you're backpacking it. The last mile and a half can be confusing but someone made rock towers to follow which makes it easier.

backpacking
5 days ago

This trail absolutely destroyed my legs, went camping for 2 nights, Gorgeous scenery, but do not let the "light scrambles" confuse you. There were some parts where I should have hiked in a ladder. All in all the hike is beautiful but a very very strenuous all uphill/rock climbing hike

Even with the heavy smoke, this is an amazing hike! Super diverse and not very hard at all. Could have stayed in the meadows and the lookout all day long. Will definitely be back in early fall

Awesome view and lots of wildlife!

6 days ago

Amazing view!! Worth to hike again!!

Had a great hike with KR on 8/14. We started from the lower trail head. The trail started easy and slowly the grade increased. For the last km form the summit the trail was rocky and quite demanding. We saw a mountain goat at the top. We took the summer tail in and out and it took us 5 hours. This would have been a 5 Star hike but views were limited due to smoke from area Forrest fires. It was still worth it and a great first hike in Olympia Park.

I wish I'd done this on a clearer day, I'd been looking forward to it all summer. I hiked it yesterday, 8/12, and it was both cloudy and hazy from fire smoke. I knew it would be, but decided to be optimistic and try it. At least the bugs were not too bad!
I would say that the hike itself is not quite worth it unless the scenery from the top is clear, as I've heard the views are quite amazing on good weather days. I found the hike to be tedious and a bit unexciting, though the steep rock scrambling near the top is pretty fun.
I'll blame the weather on being underwhelmed. I plan to try again in the future!

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